New Era Begins at SAMSI with NEW Director

David Banks, SAMSI Director

In January 2018, SAMSI welcomed its third director, David Banks, a Professor of the Practice of Statistics from Duke University’s Department of Statistical Science.
“SAMSI is amazing…I’ve been involved since 2003, and I have watched it grow and evolve,” said Banks upon being announced as the new director.
Banks took over the position from Richard Smith, the Mark L. Reed III Distinguished Professor of Statistics and Professor of Biostatistics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Department of Statistics and Operations Research (STOR). Smith has served as SAMSI Director since 2010 and now assumes the role of an Associate Director at SAMSI.
During his tenure, Smith did a great deal to enhance the SAMSI brand by working to bring in interesting programs that highlighted the importance of statistics and applied mathematics across a broad spectrum of subjects. From forensic science to astronomy or computational methods for large data and climate research, Smith worked with the SAMSI directorate and staff to bring in fresh programs organized by some of the leading experts in their fields from around the world. In his new role as an associate director, Smith will focus more of his efforts towards his passion of teaching and climate research.
Banks obtained his Master of Science in Applied Mathematics from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1982, followed by a Ph.D at the same school in Statistics in 1984. In his career, Banks has served in numerous academic institutions and government organizations. One of Banks’ most prestigious positions was as Chief Statistician of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the late 1990’s, followed by a stint at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2002. Banks returned to academics in 2003, where he joined the Department of Statistical Science at Duke.
“Every time you change jobs you get a new skill set, a new set of friends, some new ideas and a raise,” said Banks. “If you change jobs well, you keep the old friends, skills and thinking. Changing jobs is positive, and I hope my move to SAMSI will be as gratifying has my previous job hopping has been.”
In addition to his many professional accomplishments, Banks has also written scholarly papers and has served as an editor of the Journal of the American Statistical Association, as well as co-founding the journal of Statistics and Public Policy, where he also served as an editor. He has also published 74 refereed articles, edited eight books, and co-authored four monographs.
In his research, Banks enjoys statistical modeling the most because the research offers insight into the explanations of complex problems. His research areas also include models for dynamic networks, dynamic text networks, adversarial risk analysis (i.e., Bayesian behavioral game theory), human rights statistics, agent-based models, forensics, and certain topics in high-dimensional data analysis.
Banks recently served as the president of the International Society for Business and Industrial Statistics. He is a fellow of the American Statistical Association and of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics. He also won the American Statistical Association’s Founders Award in 2015.
Banks’ said that for now, until he gets more comfortable in his new position as director at SAMSI, he will focus research goals towards data science and machine learning methodologies. Everyone at SAMSI welcomes Banks as the new director and looks forward to working with him.